Dave Hollander was a mountain of a man with a rough edge, but with a kind heart.
And when it came time to take care of his “kids” – otherwise known as CART drivers – there were few that were better than Hollander at making sure a driver left a track the way he got there: safely.
Hollander, one of the anchors of CART’s on-track safety team for a quarter-century, passed away Friday at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer, according to a story on Racer.com by Robin Miller.
Hollander, whose day job was that of a New Jersey firefighter, piloted his safety truck at racetracks all over the world just like a fire truck.
He strived to be the first on the scene and jumped out countless of times to make sure a driver was okay – and if not, to begin taking care of the injured driver.
“Dave was one of a kind,” former CART safety director Lon Bromley told Miller. “He was very dedicated to the safety team and he always thought of the drivers first. He always wanted the best for them.”
Hollander was with CART and then Champ Car from 1979 until 2007, when the latter-named sanctioning body folded.
Hollander worked virtually every CART/Champ Car race in the U.S. and abroad during that time. He and his team have been credited numerous times for helping to save the lives of several drivers in near-fatal wrecks, including Alex Zanardi and Cristiano da Matta.
Wally Dallenbach, who formed CART’s original safety team in 1979 with Dr. Steve Olvey, remembers Hollander, who was one of his first hires for the team, fondly.
“He was a true soldier, always about helping other people,” Dallenbach told Miller. “I called him every couple weeks and he had that same gravely laugh and he was fighting the good fight. Dave was a special guy, one of the best too.”
Click here to read Robin Miller’s great tribute to Hollander.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski